tv Whats Eating America With Andrew Zimmern MSNBC February 16, 2020 6:00pm-8:00pm PST
this is an msnbc special series. ♪ >> oh, my god. >> to say that food is my passion is, well, an understatement. i'm andrew zimmern. >> wow, wow, wow. >> i'm a chef and world traveler with an appetite for politics and culture. >> so delicious. >> cooking has always been my joy, my way of connecting to the world. as a young chef, restaurants enabled me to hide my worst self. then saved me from it. >> i always like a place where the dead animals are hanging right in the dining room. >> i have spent the past 13 years experiencing the unique cultures and unusual foods of people all over the world. those experiences revealed a
deeper truth. >> now, are you done making me cry? >> food is much more than sustenance. sharing a meal reveals there is more that unites us than divides us. >> he's so crazy. >> i believe that applies here at home. now more than ever. join me as i explore our country, looking at the biggest social and political questions of the day through the lens of food. >> i mean, there is no one solution. sharing a few good meals along the way. >> mindy, hot and fresh. >> and trying to figure out -- >> holy moly. >> "what's eating america." immigration is fundamental to who we are as americans. i have spent 40 years in the food business, and i can tell
you without immigrants and migrant workers, our food system would collapse. >> have a nice day. >> the truth is, these hard working men and women put food on our tables. i'm heading out across the country to share the inspiring stories of the communities who feed america. joining me on this journey is one of my dearest friends. >> whoa! >> they're good. every time you have a bite this sauce provides sauce, bite, sauce. >> jose andres is a renowned chef and humanitarian. he feeds millions in the aftermath of natural disasters through his nonprofit world central kitchen. no chef in the world has done more to shine a light on immigration issues than he has. >> i keep revealing the phrase that immigration reform is not a problem for america to solve, it
is an opportunity for america to seize. >> for jose, it is personal. he came to the united states from spain 30 years ago. in 2013, he became a u.s. citizen. >> when you examine the food system in america, people who are immigrants, migrants, refugees, documented and undocumented are touching our food every single step of the way. you realize how important it is to engage with people of other countries in a way that makes sense. >> jose and i want to engage with every american on the issue of immigration. every american. >> president trump, two and a half years ago, you had a conversation with me on the phone and you told me that you would love to hear our ideas on true immigration reform. i think enough time has passed. i'm inviting you here to join us on this documentary to try once and for all to pass immigration reform. are you up for it?
>> let's have lunch. we'd love to talk. >> buy, sir. boom. ♪ >> to show the connection between the food americans eat and the immigrants who make it possible, jose and i figured there is no better place to start than right here inside our nation's capital. >> today we are celebrating the food we produce, especially the people behind the entire process. >> finding out where the food eaten by our most powerful politicians come from is difficult. our requests for food information from the white house and senate yielded nothing. so we found an alternative route. the house members dining room can be rented for catered events, which is what we did. >> the u.s. capital's famous navy bean soup. beans from la vern, tennessee and the country ham from
missouri. our farmed capital event atacts dozens of lobbyists and industry insiders, all stakeholders in our food system. >> there are two entities that get shorted in this process routinely. it is the farmers and the workers. >> i have learned that there is still a lot of people in america that go hungry. >> many of these same dishes are served to members of congress on any given day. appropriately all the ingredients for this meal come from right here in the usa. >> what are you guys making? >> oh!bison from? >> alexandria. >> they gave us photos and
records to trace all 39 ingredients found in our buffet back to their sources. >> we can show you that all the food served tonight somewhere along the way has been touched by immigrant and migrant labor feeding the most powerful people in the country, the people that create the laws that affect their lives. the duck best is made from kale from richardson farms in maryland. agriculture employers can hire temporary employers to fill seasonal jobs. richardson farms received work visas for 25 migrant workers in the 2019 season. >> the crab in the fritter is marketed as best yet maryland crab meat. that's from w.t.york and company. >> this harvest season, they have work visas for 35 migrant
workers. from the strawberries on the salad bar to the watermelon, every ingredient traces its way back to immigrant and migrant labor. >> so how do we know about all these visas? well simple. just like we did, you can go ahead and check the publically available department of labor database and you can see which farms around the country are using the foreign guest worker visa program, and i'm headed to one of these farms to see what life there is actually like. ♪ >> 2,906 miles away from
washington, d.c. giant fields of beautiful california strawberries. those folks right there, they're the ones putting those strawberries on to the plates of the heavy hitters in the congressional dining room. >> here in the valley, the ocean breeze tricks nature into thinking its springtime for nine months a year. welcome to the heart of california farm country. >> meet sara, edgar ramirez and urel. they're migrant harvesters from mexico working by way of the
baseball cap and colors of the university of minnesota. i work hard because some day i want my son to be able to go to school there. >> gracias. >> because they are here under the h-2a guest program, employers must provide meals, transportation and housing. >> the irony is not lost of any fan of american literature that the harvesters sleep four to a room here at the steinbeck lodge. this town being the home of john steinbeck, author of "the grapes of rath". >> hi. can i come in? >> that's my kid. >> her story reflects the experience of nearly a quarter
million people in the foreign workers visa system who help feed america. studies show that the average american worker doesn't want to do this kind of work. >> i fully agree. in my tenure i have not seen an average american come apply. sponsored by celebrity cruises. sail beyond. [♪] looking to repair dry, damaged hair without weighing it down? try pantene daily moisture renewal conditioner. its color-safe formula uses smart conditioners to micro-target damage helping to repair hair
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vegetables. and a top supplier of lettuce and greens. now, food from both companies is served in the u.s. capital, so we reached out to them to discuss the role that immigrants play in each of their workforces. neither company responded. >> there is a huge labor crisis in california. >> good farms did. they supply strawberries to stores like costco and whole foods. jackie vazquez is the director of operations. >> three years ago, we didn't have enough people, and there is fields that literally there was tractors just plowing them down. >> so the agricultural labor shortage in america is so acute that you don't have a choice. you have to rely on this program. >> if i'm going to harvest the amount of acreage in my budget and that i have agreed to with certain retailer, i absolutely need h2a. >> in addition to that, good
farms relies on immigrant workers already living in the you united states. studies show that the average american worker doesn't want to do this kind of work. >> i fully agree. in my tenure, i have not seen an average american come apply. >> this is difficult work. >> very difficult. i think a lot of people consider this unskilled labor. the reality is that this is very skilled labor. this is a person doing multiple things in seconds. >> barbara lives in the area and has been with good farms for seven years. she works in this field with other local harvesters. >> ah. no good because it's bruised. >> she's showing me exactly what it takes to do this job. >> i don't know about your back, but mine is already in a lot of pain. >> yeah. i took seven advil. my back, my legs. >> your pride. >> my pride.
>> she says if you were a normal harvester, she would have returned you. >> she's saying send him back? >> yep. >> tables have turned. how do you like that one? >> these people are paid by piece, by box. >> yeah. >> and so how much a box? >> it's $2.50 a box. an average is doing 40 or 50 a day. the higher level one, they're doing 100, 100 a day. >> wow. a nice chunk of change. >> yeah. >> if you can hustle out and get a few more boxes per hour, that's a few more dollars. the local harvesters pay taxes on their income like any hard-working american. a food truck arrives to signal break time and ensures everyone has access to a meal. >> beautiful. and everything looks so good and fresh, roasted ceranos. we have been up in the other field with some of the other
visaed workers who come up from mexico. they were really, really eager to talk to us. a lot of the workers here in this field, they're more shy. is that because of what's going on politically in america right now? >> estimates are that 50% of our labor force in the food system here in america is undocumented. people are presenting papers that they get from somewhere that -- >> yeah. 100% of my employee is documented. >> fair enough. as an employer, you're only required to see a couple of pieces of paper from me. >> valid documentation. >> period. >> i am not immigration to request the documentation you give. >> nor the police. >> correct. nor do i want to be. >> great. as restaurant owners, jose and i are in the same boat. >> a little bit of the chili
oil. hiring workers, accepting their paperwork and complying with the law. like many businesses, both jose and i use e-verify, an online system that checks employee information to confirm they are authorized to work in the united states. >> if you genuinely believe the documents they're giving you, they look to be true and you send them and the administration is not telling you anything but they give the money, many, many of those documented are coming to america through their work and through their taxes they pay every single month. >> the vast majority. and taking jobs that
statistically and quantity fiebly other americans don't want to do. 12 miles down the road from good farms just outside of salenas, california, i met up with teresa. >> without these workers, agriculture will not exist in this country. >> she is now a u.s. citizen and president of the united farm workers of america, the union co-founded by caesar chavez. >> pleading for social justice to the farm worker and his cause. >> all of these workers, they don't want to speak. they don't want to say anything, especially with the atmosphere that is happening right now. they want to be in the shadows, which is exactly what trump wants and it is exactly the wrong thing to do. >> what do you think when you hear those words coming out of our president's mouth. >> it is infuriating. we have people who feed not only
democrats or republicans, men, women, everybody in this country and the world. these lawmakers are enjoying the fruits and vegetables that are harvested by documented workers. i would invite all of them to come in the field and work one day so they could appreciate the contribution of them. i could guarantee you that none of them would last a day. ♪ >> no matter who is doing it, farm work is incredibly hard. it's skilled labor that deserved to be recognized. >> teachers educate our kids. policemen protect us. farm workers feed us. >> right. >> we feed america. we feed you. and people need to understand that. we pay tax just like anyone else and still don't have access to a lot of things. could switching
you are watching msnbc. ce? do woodchucks chuck wood? hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood! geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. in august 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near point comfort, virginia. it carried more than 20 enslaved africans, who were sold to the colonists. no aspect of the country we know today has been untouched by the slavery that followed. america was not yet america, but this was the moment it began. [sfx: typing]
♪ for the land of the free ♪ and the home of the brave [ applause ] >> i'm one of the nearly 69 million people who attended a major league baseball game in 2019. just imagine how many ballpark snacks we bought. >> this is target field, the home of my minnesota twins. last year, a low year for attendance, they sold 67,000 pounds of chicken tenders. the amazing thing about this chicken tender isn't how it's cooked or what it tastes like, but this chicken tender is made by a very unique group of people in a very special place in the country. i think it says a lot about how
america's food winds up on our plate. tyson foods produces 1 in 5 pounds of all chicken sold in the united states. including those chicken tenders i ate at the ball game. this is the very street plant in springdale, arkansas, the company's headquarters. it is a city of nearly 80,000 people. and the name tyson is everywhere. >> look at all those tyson trucks lined up. >> here you go. >> thank you. >> we do about 11 million pounds of chicken a week out of here. >> that's a lot of chicken. >> looking good. >> i look great in brown.
>> whool i have cooked tens of thousands of chickens, this is the first time i'm seeing the heart working people responsible for processing them. it is humbling. tyson employs more than 1,500 workers in springdale. nearly a quarter come from a surprising place. >> we're the largest population of islanders in the country here in springdale. >> and you are the largest employer outside of the marshall islands. >> correct. >> the marshall islands is made up of more than 1,100 islands in the pacific ocean. the most famous of which is called bikini. >> the united states government now wants to attempt to turn
this great destructive force into something good for mankind. >> between 1946 and 1958, the united states conducted 23 nuclear weapons tests here. the nuclear fall-out affected every aspect of life here, fishing, farming, health. >> in 1986, the united states and the marshall islands entered into the compact of free association. the deal allows the marshallees to live, study, work and pay taxes in the united states, though they are not granted american citizenship. a few traded the ocean waves for the fresh water lakes of north
west arkansas and jobs at tyson foods. many more followed. english, spanish, marshalleese. how long have you been working here? >> and why springdale? what made you come here. >> i came here to live here. i have my family here. >> a lot of us came from places in the marshall islands that perhaps we never had a job. and it's an island life. think about it.
>> melissa founded. >> in the marshall islands there aren't clocks. >> we don't have any clocks. come on. the clock is the sun. >> exactly. melissa and i are having lunch at jojo's, a market that specializes in marshallees food. >> eating with your hands. without places like this, where you don't have access to the real authentic marshallees food, you are in a way disconnected from your culture. >> when the first started coming over here, there were good jobs here. the tyson plant primarily. >> it is a good thing for them because now you have documented -- >> yes. >> now we want to be careful with this. documented non-immigrant. >> the term non-immigrant is
important, defining their non-citizen status in the eyes of the u.s. government. melissa was able to become a u.s. citizen in 2011 through her military service. >> that was very, very sweet. >> really? >> yes. i had no idea what those words meant, zero. but i know exactly what they meant. it's thank you. take care of the people around us. you know? >> you know, we were brought up to be caregivers, and we were brought up in a way that
everything is shared. >> fish heads simmered in coconut fruit with bread fruit. wow. >> it's really good, huh? >> oh, my god! i had to come to northwestern arkansas to have fish. i'm really glad there is a place now the community can gather and kids can taste what home is like. if you can wave a magic wand for your community here, what would it be? >> the first wish will be that we have equal access to a lot of things, including medicaid. our children don't have access to the snap program, supplemented nutrition. but we're here documented. we pay tax just like anyone else. and still don't have access to a lot of things. >> 40% of marshalleese in the
united states live below the poverty line. because of their non-citizen status, they can't access many government programs designed to help the poor, and they don't have the right to vote. i just read a study that several of the islands are still ten times more toxic than the chernobyl site. i'm your mother in law. and i like to question your every move. like this left turn. it's the next one.
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richard lui. more than 1,000 former justice department officials released a statement calling on attorney general barr to resign. this rare move comes after barr intervened in the sentencing recommendation for roger stone. today over 400 u.s. passengers on board a quarantined diamond cruise ship were final lly ableo leave. now back to "what's eating
america" with andrew zimmern. my exploration of the communities that feed america has brought me to springdale, arkansas, home to tyson foods. they're a key employer of the largest population of marshallees without side the marshall islands. what dishes are you guys making? >> that one is make from pumpkin. >> oh. see now we're starting to get interesting here. >> both rlucy and ty want to become u.s. citizens. >> what is your favorite guilty pleasure american food? >> i will say that it is pizza. >> yep, that -- you're not alone.
you're not alone. >> they both need to be sponsored by an adult family member who is also a citizen. >> your siblings are on the fast track because they're in the military. your parents are getting fast tracked because their children are in the military. >> yes. i'm waiting for my parents because that's a faster path. if i wait for my children, i have to wait maybe another 20 years or so. >> it seems very complex. >> uh-huh. >> and what's the most important reason for you that you want to become a citizen. >> i get to use the vote and in fact a few years back we start to, you know, encourage our young people to register to vote because the more we vote the more people will say they care and they want to be part of this community. >> i just read a study that several of the islands are still ten times more toxic that the chernobyl site. it is just a staggering thought. >> i came from one of the
islands that was affected from the bomb. my family they have cancer. me too. i already have surgery. here is better than home. but i miss our island. it belongs to us. >> it is heartbreaking to hear. >> cancer and diabetes related diseases remain the leading cause of death among marshallees. many of the islands remain uninhabitable. rising ocean levels also threaten to make the marshallees the planet's very first climate refugees. soon, there may not be a home to
go back to. ♪ >> creating a home here in springdale, arkansas is more important than ever. >> amazing. >> this stroll festival encourages locals to learn more about marshallees culture. >> what are you guys making? >> coconut candy. >> i'm always nervous about trying new things. wow. that is delicious. >> yeah. >> the marshallees contribute to this community and to our country in many ways and they pay taxes. since they don't get to vote in their own self-interest, that's taxation without representation. >> is there something specific that the state legislature is considering now that would help
them become citizens faster? >> at the state level our hands are tied by federal legislations and decisions. but something we did this past legislation is extend in state tuition states to marshallees students. even though it is not citizenship, it is expanding opportunity. >> as the top employer in springdale, tyson foods has also stepped in to help their immigrant workforce. >> high school equivalency classes, citizenship classes, digital literacy and financial literacy. these folks are the backbone of this company. it doesn't happen without them. it is important they feel stable but also welcome. >> you discuss this in other places around the country. are people surprised such a progressive idea started in the northwest corner of arkansas? >> yeah. >> the pathway to citizenship issue, that's a tricky road to navigate here, especially marshalleese because of their
unique citizenship puzzle. you are a big american corporation. you have an incredible story to tell these people. >> i don't know where that will go and whether or not we'll be able to have a larger impact on this conversation or not. >> so why aren't we making the pathway to citizenship easier for the marshallees. they gave up their atolls for the greater food. in return, u.s. military testing destroyed their home. united states citizenship means far more than access. it is the opportunity to share in the promise of the american dream. >> we create too many hoops for you to jump through to actually become real citizens and vote and do all the other things that are necessary. >> yeah. yeah. that has been pretty tough. but i'm a soldier. i'm an american and i'm a marshalleese and nobody will ever take that away from me.
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♪ applebee's new irresist-a-bowls now starting at $7.99. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. there is one person in america who has done more than anyone in modern history to shift the immigration debate. the well documented irony being, of course, that donald trump built his brand with the help of foreign born labor. jose and i are going up the very
escalator that he went down to announce his candidacy. >> i am officially running for president of the united states. >> we're going to show you how the restaurant industry really works. >> hey. how are you doing? two for lunch. >> by dining at trump grill. we brought in our cell phones and some small cameras to document our lunch. >> how are you today? so you're espanol? >> where are you from? >> mexico. >> what part. >> our friendly mexican born server takes our order. >> he is going to have the taco bowl. what am i going to have? the maryland crab cakes. >> steps away from where trump said this. >> when mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. >> this is the statement that also caused jose to pull out of
a restaurant deal with the trump hotel. >> jose andres was in d.c. today. >> in 2015, the trump organization sued for breach of contract. two years later, they released a joint statement, announcing the lawsuit had been settled. >> he uses so many immigrants to run this operation. >> yes. >> i thought a business person, a successful business person would understand it. then i thought, well, he run on that and the immigrant rhetoric. hopefully maybe now he's president. his rhetoric would change. he has not changed. i'm highly disappointed. >> it also hasn't changed the fact that immigrants make up the
majority of the staff here, including the head chef. >> where are you from? >> this isn't unique to trump grill. across the country, an estimated 22% of restaurant workers are foreign born. and restaurants are only the most public facing point of the industry. immigrant labor drives the entire food supply chain. >> oh! >> oh, my god. >> jumbo lump maryland crab cakes. you can see those nice big pieces of lump in there. very good. >> the journey of maryland crab is a long one, and it starts 227 miles away from here. trump grill sells maryland crab
cakes. maryland crab comes from the chesapeake bay. we're looking at one of the most vibrant cultural and culinary elements in the entire eastern seaboard. >> i lived here my entire life, so of course to me it's very special. i think the chesapeake bay's very unique. >> aubrey vincent is the co-owner of lindie's seed food, a crab processor that's been in business here for the last 40 years. >> every maryland picking house is family run. so it's someone like me and my dad that are running multi-generational family businesses, and that's how the product's getting to your version. >> it's the waterborne version of the family farm.
>> up to 140,000 pounds of crab are steamed, picked, and packed every day. >> when our community, our last census i think was like 165 people. i hire 105. based on the census, every single person would need to be unemployed and interested in this job to even begin to fill the job open lgds. >> there aren't enough local residents to fill this seasonal job. so the only way you can make it all work from a labor standpoint is how? >> well, the only solution we've been able to find so far is to supplement the american labor that we have with the h2b program. >> there are two kinds of h2 guest worker visas. h22a for seasonal agricultural work with no limit to the number of workers companies can hire.
h2b is for every other type of temporary, nonagricultural work, like crabbing. but the number of these visas is capped each year. >> about 26 years ago, we started supplementing our american workforce with h2bs in our peak season. >> how has that changed over the years? >> well, there's been more of a demand for seasonal workers than there have been visas. >> reporter: in 2018, american companies applied for three times the number of available visas. the first come, first served system pits industry against industry. with nowhere near enough visas to go around. >> there was times we'd have to have sayings of, can we stay alive? we've lost a lot of family-run businesses in this area simply because they didn't have the labor to keep running, because they couldn't turn to this program. >> there is one family business that has received the foreign worker visas it has applied for year after year. >> president trump wins visas to
hire 70 foreign workers for mar-a-lago in palm beach. mar-a-lago isn't the only foreign hotel that hires seasonal workers for foreign jobs, but is the only one whose owner was elected president while promising this -- >> my administration will follow two simple rules, buy american and high american. so tomorrow after anybody watches this, somebody can grab you and kick you out of the country and put you in jail. (sports announcer) what an unlikely field in this final heat. (burke) not exactly a skinny dipper, but we covered it. at farmers, we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. so get a quote at farmers-dot-com.
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these people are paid by the amount of crab that they pick. so you don't want to waste a single bit of meat during the process. every person here is doing around three crabs a minute. you have amazing skill. not only are you very fast, but you're not even bothering to wear a safety glove, so you must really be good with that knife. >> translator: yes, not too much, just a little. >> people like ysidra ariana's crew pick crabs for restaurants like trump grill. for the last 20 years she's been coming here from oaxaca, mexico, through the h2b program. do you like the system you've been given, or is it your desire to live here in the states permanently?
these workers are the linchpin of tourism to the bay. supplying crab for menu thes throughout the chesapeake. their contribution helps drive the $38.5 billion u.s. seafood industry. along with the entire supply chain of haulers and drivers, right down to the 2.3 million foreign-born restaurant workers bringing it all to our tables. a lot of people think that people like you are dangerous. i don't see anything dangerous when i'm talking to immigrants and migrants in america.
>> they are drug dealers, and they are criminals of all kind. we are taking mexico's problems. we have some bad hombres here, and we're going to get them out. >> this is jesus lira, undocumented immigrant from mexico. for the past decade, he worked. jose has invited jesus to come to his home for lunch. this is the first time jesus is allowing himself to be identified on television.
>> so i'm making a dish for you from south of spain. it uses garlic, olive oil, and tomato. how many years you've been in the united states? >> 19. >> you work at a trump property? >> tramp national, wor chester. >> you were atmosphere hired there with papers, like if you were documented? >> uh-huh. >> for how long you were there? >> ten years. >> you worked ten years at the president trump property? >> yeah. >> and nobody ever realized that you were an undocumented? >> they know. you don't have to be a genius to see the difference between a real green card and a fake green card. >> been filling out your taxes like any other legal? >> i do my taxes like normal people, like legal people.
>> but everybody is looking to the other side. >> of course. because they need us. >> over his decade working at trump national golf course, jesus amassed a trove of documents. pay stubs, tax returns, even an employee of the month award. >> i don't have nothing to hide. so you guys can see every single paper. >> jesus paid nearly $30,000 in social security and medicare taxes over 10 years. for benefits he will never receive. >> illegal immigration hurts american workers, burdens american taxpayers, and undermines public safety. illegal immigration costs our country billions and billions of dollars each year. >> the government's own data designates undocumented immigrants contribute $16 billion annually to federal retiree programs, helping to keep them solvent for the rest of us.
jesus claims he was hired with the help of a trump accountant who coached him twice on how to get better fake papers. >> i showed the papers, and they told me, muchlt. this um, this one because they look too fake. >> during his time at westchester, jees cooked for trump himself. he says any future he had with the golf club ended with a phone call in january 2019. >> the guy told me they're going to use e-verify. they want of want me back, but they can't have me. that was my feeling. >> within days the trump organization said it would start using e-verify at all of its properties. >> so he's very right what you're doing. you're risking a lot. tomorrow after anybody watches this, somebody can grab you and
kick you out of the country or put you in jail or send you out. >> you know, i think about that, like, a lot. because my family and my kids and my wife -- it's not easy for me, doing this. again, nobody's going to do it for me. so i've got to fight my own battle. if i want to win. >> jesus' immigration attorney, anibal romero, represents 40 undocumented workers from eight trump properties. >> so i would tell him what he's doing is not in his best interests. why is he really doing it? >> yeah, that was a conversation i had with jesus and the other 40 workers. and what they are telling me is that, enough is enough. they understand the risks. and this was a way to tell america that this is a problem, and they want to tell their story. they think they can make a difference. >> is he in any legal trouble? >> he is. and that's why the system is broken.
technically speaking, immigration can arrest him, detain him, and deport him from the united states. >> the new york state attorney general is investigating trump national golf club, westchester, after receiving complaints about wages and working conditions. >> trump, trump, trump, trump, trump! >> the trump organization has not responded to our request to discuss the allegations of jesus and the other workers. the last time jesus saw trump in person was the night the candidate celebrated his super tuesday victory at the golf club. >> we love our country, we love our country. >> what they should know about your story is who's the undocumented immigrant. >> this is a country of great people. so be brave, fight for the right thing. we can make america really great. we've got the power in our
hands. >> i think these people, they finally decided that america loves them back, because they've been giving a lot of love to america. >> politicians are using this to divide us, when in reality the solution is very easy. legalize the 11 million and focus on border security. i happened to be in a meeting, and i had one of my school translators run in and she said, there's a raid going on, i've received 10 phone calls. if you're living with hiv, keep being you.
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can you help keep these iguys protected online?? easy, connect to the xfi gateway. what about internet speeds that keep up with my gaming? let's hook you up with the fastest internet from xfinity. what about wireless data options for the family? of course, you can customize and save. can you save me from this conversation? that we can't do, but come in and see what we can do. we're here to make life simple. easy. awesome. ask. shop. discover. at your local xfinity store today. my friend jose andris and i are explaining the stories of immigrants and migrant workers who are feeding america every day.
welcome to morristown, tennessee, population about 29,000. davy crockett grew up here. and the unusual elevated sidewalks were built after a flood destroyed downtown in 1962. lucky for me, i'm here during tomato season. granger county, tennessee, tomato valhalla. the acidity and the sweetness balance, they're so good. do you happen to be a granger county tomato farmer? >> yes, sir. >> the tomatoes are insane. >> thank you. >> now what make s morristown unique is while tennessee's population is 7% his pan example, in morristown that
population comes in about 20%. there's a very good reason for it. jobs. morristown and the surrounding counties have become an economic hub for everything from manufacturing to meat packing. >> we have three active industrial parks, and we're looking for possible fourth somewhere down the road. >> the local hispanic population is more than double what the state average is. is that demographic part of what's helping the success story? >> the hispanic population's been growing in morristown since the middle '80s. there were large tomato farms and migrants would come in. and many of them stayed to work over the winter. we had a chicken processing plant here. >> as the local economy grew over the decades, so did the
need for immigrant and migrant labor. >> are these workers able to get the proper visas for those that aren't citizens here? >> i know that the legal or illegal issue is a hot topic and has always been a bit of a topic here as far as job growth goes. and that was reflected in the i.c.e. raid, the one last year. >> breaking tonight, right now 97 people in east tennessee face charges or are in custody tonight after a federal raid by immigration agents on a meat plant. >> 2018 saw more than four times the number of workplace i.c.e. raids over the previous year. the aftereffects have become an all too real part of the immigrant experience across the united states. >> i.c.e. raids have begun across the country. >> i.c.e. expects to target -- >> i want to find out what
happens to a community when i.c.e. comes to town. >> it was a typical day. if i'm not mistaken, it was a thursday. >> april 5th, 2018, started out like any other morning in southeastern provision, a meat packing plant just 15 minutes outside of morristown. >> i was upstairs in the upper level, and i was about to go down to get a plug for the hydraulic pump. >> this worker wishes to remain anonymous. his friends still don't know that he is an undocumented immigrant. >> i remember i looked on my phone, and it was almost an hour after, they break into the building. >> 9:00 a.m., workers notice police cars pull up. >> gonzalo chavez had been working at the plant for a year and a half after coming with a friend to tennessee from mexico city. he is currently undergoing
kidney dialysis through a catheter in his neck. >> when they handcuffed you, did anyone tell you what was going on? >> no. >> sounds scary. >> at least 55 armed i.c.e. and irs agents, as well as the tennessee highway patrol, surrounded the premises. a helicopter hovered above. >> they come in, they make us take our tools down, put everything down. they pat us down. i didn't know what was going on. when they put the zip ties, we walk out of the main area, there was a big whole line of people already detained. >> 97 employees were arrested that day. all of them latino.
news spread quickly throughout morristown. >> i happened to be in a meeting, and i had one of my school translators run in and she said, there's a raid going on, i've received 10 phone calls. >> casey kerberson is the cofounder of a local hispanic leadership organization and a school administrator. >> i reached out to all of our principals in the district to make sure that those students that were going home were not going home by themselves. so we created a system that we had people to ride on the buses and ride behind the buses from there students got to the door and there was no one there, come back to the school and keep them there until somebody could pick them up. >> all in a matter of minutes and hours. >> yeah. i think it's the mama in us. >> yeah, i think so. that was our first thought, those kids. >> the babies, the kids. >> veronica galvan is the director of religious education at st. patrick catholic church.
they first met at the local armory where the arrested workers were taken for processing. >> we were just making sure that the families were calm. >> i do need that list, if you have a list that tells us who's in there. >> this lady right here, she has die bites and might need medication. >> we told one of the police officers, said, if they're not being fed, we'll bring you the food. just take to it them. a lot of them had medical conditions. diabetic, high blood pressure. though needed to be fed. some of them were on insulin, they were weren't able to take the insulin with them, this we w -- they were just picked up. >> throughout that day and into the night, 32 undocumented workers were released to their families, their deportation cases to be heard at a later
date. >> the most heart-wrenching thing, wait in the dark, waiting for people to come out. they're shaking, i didn't know if i was going to get out, where are my kids? people on the other side, this is my mom, is this my dad? waiting for them. we would do it over and over and over again. till the last one. >> any more people coming? no? >> and then when we saw the buses and the vans leave, we knew that was the last person. >> you've got to turn around and say, that's it. your dad's not coming. we had little ones hold our legs, please bring mom, please bring dad. that was the hardest thing. because i would see my kids. what if that was me? what in it was my children asking for help? >> nine of the detained workers were deported. two remain in federal custody. 54 were sent to detention centers in alabama and then on to louisiana.
at least 160 children of the detained, many of them u.s. citizens, were left without a parent. >> i got home. and i asked my mom if she knew about it. and she was like -- and she's like, yeah, they got your dad. and i was shocked. i look up to him. many things i do is for him. because he's ill. i just want to see him. >> all i ask is that we're still -- just to help us and pray for everybody. that doesn't have their families. please unite them back together. where are we going and what do we have to do to change
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♪ in april 2018, i.c.e. arrested 97 undocumented immigrants in a raid on a meatpacking plant outside of morristown, tennessee. this area of the state overwhelmingly voted for donald trump. >> this raid that happened yesterday has sent a wave of fear throughout the community. people are afraid to leave their homes, people are unsure if it's safe to go to work, to send their children to school. >> in the weeks that followed, local nonprofit and charity groups banded together to provide everything from legal services and child care to food and beds for families of the detained. the community came together. and donations poured in. >> whenever we got to st. patrick's, people kept dropping off donations. i had someone step in literally
crying and said, i voted for trump. i'm against immigration, but i did not know it was this. handed over a check, walked out the door. "i did not know it looked like this." >> can you tell me what the patch is on your face for? >> gonzalo chavez says he told immigration officers he has type 1 diabetes but says he was denied his medication for 15 days. >> the situation is so awful, they would assume that just by the way someone looks, you can diagnose a blood illness? >> i'm sorry.
his deteriorating health affected his eyesight and left him unable to work. in response to gonzalo's claim, i.c.e. told us that detainees quote receive all necessary and appropriate care. gonzalo lost his apartment, car, and all his personal belongings after the raid. his medical bills have been paid through donations. he lived for free in a home owned by a friend before returning to mexico city to be cared for by his family. the other detained employee i met has been granted a temporary visa to work in the united states. his family's future remains uncertain. your wife is an american citizen?
>> yes. >> your children? are american citizens? >> yes. >> how long have you been here? >> i've been here 20 years. i was only 15 when i was brought here. i had no choice. >> you came here as a minor? >> yes. >> that's right. >> i would hate to go back. i mean, i don't see why my kids have to pay for that. >> right. >> they probably say, well, let him stay here. but that's not a way to keep a family together. >> of course not. >> and what about the plant owner who hired the undocumented workers? james brantley was paying workers in cash and underreporting his taxes. since i.c.e. piggy backed on an irs investigation, they don't even call the raid a raid. on july 31st, 2019, brantley was sentenced to 18 months in prison for tax fraud and hiring people unauthorized to work in the united states.
james brantley declined our interview request. at the plant, i meet his daughter kelsey. >> it's not in the interests of my family. that's all i feel comfortable letting you guys know. i appreciate you guys being respectful. >> absolutely. >> i understand what you guys are trying to do, and i hope to see it and i hope it raises awareness to a very important issue, that everybody has to eat. >> thank you. you know what? she's right. people do have to eat. if we better understand exactly who is feeding us, then maybe we can start making smarter decisions about u.s. immigration policy. it seems that farming around here, you can't do it -- >> you can't do it without the migrant work. yeah. >> i mean, with the few that we
have, we still have plants that go to waste because we can't get it all picked, because we don't have enough workers and we don't have enough documented or legal workers. >> and if undocumented workers go away, our food system breaks down. >> it does, yeah. it really does. >> so what happens when i.c.e. comes to town? everyone feels the impact. clearly the system doesn't work. how about this country and citizenship? is that something that you want to be a part of your future?
you were so public in your advocacy, and your restaurant is so popular. are you ever afraid of being detained or deported yourself? battling sensitive skin, we switched to tide pods free & gentle. it's gentle on her skin, and dermatologist recommended. tide free & gentle. safe for skin with psoriasis and eczema. ♪ do you recall, not long ago ♪ we would walk on the sidewalk ♪ ♪ all around the wind blows ♪ we would only hold on to let go ♪ ♪ blow a kiss into the sun ♪ we need someone to lean on ♪ blow a kiss into the sun
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i'm richard lui. two snowmobilers are dead after being buried by an avalanche they accidentally triggered in colorado. a third victim who was snowmobiling with the group was able to free himself and notify authorities. >> president trump kicked off nascar's daytona 500 on sunday as the grand marshal, becoming the second president to do so. while rain delays postponed the race, the president did manage to take a lap in his presidential limo. now back to "what's eating america." behind me is independence
hall, and it was right there that our founding fathers first put the idea on paper that all men are created equal. and every generation since then has struggled to define what it actually means to be equal. every immigrant community in america seems to go through the exact same cycle. come to america seeking a better life, arrive here, attempt to mainstream and assimilate, and instead get the crap kicked out of you until you sort of gain a foothold and start to expand your culture here. what's up, people? >> life's great. we're living the dream. >> how are you? >> fantastic, it's good to see you. >> just over a century ago, it was the italian is. persecuted and unwanted, who made a home here in philadelphia. of course they brought their food traditions along too. >> 90 days old milk never tasted
so good. >> that's really good. >> yeah. since the turn of the century, it's always been an immigrant market. people coming over after the war. even before that, escaping world war i. the people that are emigrating now aren't the same immigrants from before. to have more diversity and variety is a blessing. >> today bill ba's long tradition of sheltering those seeking freedoming playing out here. south philly barbacoa. it's where my friend the celebrated chef christina martinez makes her contribution. you can get tacos. you can get the consomme. but it's the barbacoa by the pound. you kind of go nuts.
so, so delicious. mm! it's hard to describe how perfect christina's lamb is. but melt in your mouth is probably the first thing that comes to mind. and don't be afraid to dunk it in the consomme, right? as a business owner, christina relies on dozens of immigrant employees. she's also an advocate for foreign-born workers in the local restaurant scene. and an undocumented immigrant herself. you are so public in your advocacy, and your restaurant is so popular, are you ever afraid of being detained or deported yourself?
>> it's a united nations in here. uh-huh, that's how we like it. >> with the support of her husband and business partner ben miller, christina makes sure that everybody everyone who comes here feels welcomed. >> this is a very safe place. >> we can stop i.c.e. at the door, we can demand a warrant, we can refuse cooperation with i.c.e. >> you understand you have the right to do so. >> yeah. >> a lot of other business owners don't. that's what leadership is. >> christina and i have long ago had the conversation of the risks and consequences involved in telling her story. we would lose a lot if we got raided. we have certainly that we're fighting for the right thing, it's worth it. >> you guys met in a restaurant? >> working together all day. after a year of so of me asking her to go out, she finally went out with me. in my naivete, i thought i could help her out with her immigration status right away, just get married to an american.
>> a lot of the people think that that -- >> that's the way it was for the '70s, '80s. you could marry someone from here and get your thing. >> that's right. no longer true. christina was cutting attempting to cross the border in 2006. that means that she is subject to deportation. it also means that she must move back to mexico for ten years before she's eligible to apply for u.s. citizenship. >> wait ten years. which is incentive for people to stay. okay, you're trapped here ten years? well, [ bleep ] it. i'm going to stay here, work for no rights in exploitable conditions. >> christina and ben created a regular meeting with others in the industry to build a coalition for change. >> thank you so much for coming in support. >> we were just recently talking to you. you said that working itself is not a crime, it's that hiring a worker without papers is a crime. so the responsibility falls on the employer. >> right. the federal law prohibits
employers from hiring undocumented workers, but engaging in the act of undocumented work is in and itself is not illegal, it's not criminal. but in i think our popular imagination or in our society, we think of it as criminal. >> isn't that part of all of our problem? the crime is on the employer's side of the ledger, and yet the people paying the price for it, like so many, that's what happens in a two-tiered system. >> right. >> there's an inequitable piece to this when it comes to the law itself. >> and that's the rub, right? is that if you talk to workers, they don't see it as illegal. you talk to a bunch of employers, they say, hey, we hire a bunch of undocumented folks, we think it's okay because they're contributing to our workplace, we consumers of the various businesses that use undocumented work are okay with it. so in some sense everybody's okay with it, but yet we have these laws on the books that make it so that they are a subclass of people that are subject to abuse and
exlighttation. >> the asylum program is a scam. some of the roughest people you've ever seen get out, sorry, get out, can't handle it. our country is full, can't come it, i'm sorry, very simple. >> these are the stakes christina and the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country face every day. i always find over a meal, you break bread, you find solutions. >> we may break that rule. it's either the assurance of a 165-point certification process.
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i love those. there's nothing like a farmers' market to find these tiny, tiny peas. they are so tender. oh my god. you may be a support team in immigration reform or not. you may be supporting immigrants or not. right now the political discourse is making all of us somehow take sides. but trying to find answers gives me a sense of understanding, where are we going and what do we have to do to change everything as it's happening right now? because let me tell you, what's happening right now, it doesn't work. >> fixing our dysfunctional it graugs system can seem impossible. as consumers we can have a positive impact through our food choices.
>> hey, how are you? >> how are you today? >> where are you from? >> serbia. >> like supporting local farms that treat their workers fairly. in the grocery aisle, we can vote with our food dollars. >> so what this sticker right here means is that the farm worker was respected, that their concerns were taken into account. >> efi, equitable food initiative, is a new certification program that aspires to be the fair trade coffee of u.s. agriculture. efi currently unites 34 farms with big-chain stores like costco. stores pay a bit more for the product, consumers make a purchase they can feel good about. conditions in the field are vastly improved. and safer. and the farm workers receive monthly bonuses.
>> their dignity and respect, the empowerment that they receive, the knowledge that they acquire, they take that home. and they're saying, i'm really proud to be a harvester. that's a culture change. >> changing the immigration laws that affect our food system is much tougher. >> h2a program, it's for temporary work. well, in today's agriculture it's not all temporary. there's a lot of things that are perm innocent. >> while there is permanent support for expanding the seasonal division to year-round systems are numerous. >> we think it should be renamed harness to abuse, because that's what's happening. >> one innovative alternative is the blue card. it's basically a green card for undocumented agriculture workers currently living in the united states. >> this is something that would
give legalization here. not only them, but their spouses and their minor children. >> it allows for illegal status for people working the farm, cut and dried, pure and simple? >> yes, and that would protect agriculture industry. people are saying, oh, no, you're giving legal citizenship for people coming to this country and creating problems. they're not crediting problem, they're putting food on our table, they are the backbone of our culture. >> any immigration reform requires massive legislative fix and that means compromises are needed here on capitol hill. so why is passing immigration reform so difficult? jose and i grab lunch at one of his d.c. restaurants with a couple of lawmakers. >> this notion of comprehensive immigration reform, i think we have to address these issues piecemeal. >> will herd represents the 23rd district of texas. his district spans 820 miles
along the united states/mexico border and 70% of eligible voters there are hispanic. >> if we're to be proud to our economy, society, culture, you're welcome, come in. but let's streamline and it make it legal. >> joe kennedy represents the 4th district of massachusetts. as robert kennedy's grandson, he carries the legacy of his family's name. >> the challenge with a piece mail approach is that the harder pieces to fix never get done, because you can never quite get there. >> joe is a vocal proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. >> our country is being devastated by this. the people bearing the brunt of it are the folks that can least shoulder that burden. >> it's really great that you two decided to join us here, in a mexican restaurant, nonetheless. >> we have to get back to these refried beans. i've never had anything like this. >> no. >> boom.
>> i always find over a meal, you break bread, you find solutions. we might break that rule. >> i hear the republican side, and they want to pass immigration side. and i hear the democrat side, and they want to pass immigration reform. it never happens. what do we have to do to make it happen? >> this is how hard the problem is. when president obama was in office, he had a democratic senate and super majority in the house and still wasn't able to get immigration reform. >> president bush was the same way. >> yeah. >> in 2007, senate republicans stopped the president bush-backed comprehensive immigration reform act. >> it is impossible for this country to rout people out of our society and quote send them home. it's just -- it's not going to happen. >> right now it's up to republicans in the house to decide if we can move forward as a country on this bill. if they don't want to see it
happen, they've got to explain why. >> by 2013 with his democratic majority in the house gone, president obama's hopes for an immigration bill also disappeared. and now we have president trump. >> if you're going to try to do something that is as hard as immigration reform, the president's going to have to lean on it. and i haven't seen that inclination yet out of this president to lead on an immigration policy that is anywhere near would i would say is reflective of the values the vast majority of the american public holds. >> the presidency in general is absolutely critical to trying to get something done. the only way we're going to get big things done is by doing it together and doing it in a bipartisan way. we need to recognize, and if we pass something big like this, there will be enough credit to go around that you can go home and talk about, hey, i solved this problem. >> our food system is something that connects all of us. without immigrant and migrant laborers, food prices would
skyrocket. we'd go hungry. we have so many reasons to do this. is it going to take some sort of bigger disaster to move the needle? >> may 2019, we had 144,000 people coming illegally, all of the previous year of 2018, you had 400,000 people. so the crisis is here. >> i agree 100% at l. we're at it. you are well past that crisis point. >> one of the things i get frustrated is when somebody agrees with me, why aren't you a part of the other party? why can't we just agree? here's what happens, the most extreme views are then taken to apply to the entire group. >> the democrats want open borders. they want everybody including ms-13 pour nook the country. >> the point that will makes is ac rat. if those that hold the most extreme views get the oxygen. >> they dominate media
conversation. >> all the people in the administration who have done this, who have permitted it, are guilty of child abuse. >> that's the reality of our political debate and the discourse. and so the challenge is, how do you find a way to inoculate yourself against those factors that kind of pull us apart for political purposes? to actually address one of the deepest and most systemic fixes that our country actually needs? >> sitting here and chatting, i believe this is how most americans want to see our lawmakers interacting with each other. bipartisanship has become a rare commodity inen era of us versus -- in an era of us versus them. it just got harder, will herd won't seek re-election in 2020. joe kennedy is running for the sena senate. >> he's here on time and we need to embrace it.
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. wougdz, this is where we began our cross immigration and food system. >> best sandwich he's ever had. >> yes! >> food trucks are one of the cheapest entering points into the food business. perfect for recent immigrants like mohammed. how'd you start this truck? >> i work for planning for months. then i learning everything. and then i buy another one.
i have six. >> reporter: you have six trucks? oh, that's the american dream? >> yes. >> reporter: mohammed, where's my buddy? there you go, good luck with everything. >> i think people forget they're the ones that don't give them excuse itself. they are actually blessed. they don't want to take anything from anybody. they want to be proud. >> reporter: i asked him what was his secret? he said, i work hard. work hard, it's one of the themes we heard over and over again across the country. >> americans, they come into an immigrant country. we need to embrace it. we need to see it as the opportunity that it is for the ones that we arrive from, for away. and for the ones that arrive here already. >> we're coming here for a
reason, to make a better living for our families. >> i'm an american. >>ive am a soldier. i'm still a soldier at heart. nobody will ever take that away from me. [ speaking foreign language ] >> we feed america. we feed you. and people need to understand that. >> this is a country of great people. so fight for the right thing. we can make america really great. >> a very wise man once told me that immigration is not a problem for americans to solve. it's an opportunity for america to seize. raise your hand if you believe immigrants make this country great. despite all the angry rhetoric,
positive public opinion of immigration is actually growing. a 2019 survey from independent organization democracy core, shows the number of americans who believe immigrants strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents rose by 11% following the 2019 mid-term elections. we tried but we didn't chat with the one american who has most changed the immigration debates. the white house press office told us his schedule was full. >> so president trump. >> let's have lunch. we just want to talk. >> mollie, where are you? chicken sandwich, my friend. we are ready when you are, mr. president. lunch is on us. over the next four episodes, my
pursuit of answers to our nation's most vexing questions will take me on some epic journeys. >> what's up, ladies? >> with our environment in crisis and climate deniers muddying the waters. what does climate change mean for the food we eat? >> this is what we are dealing with. >> these are all dead? >> yep. >> as healthcare costs rise, are we addicted to unhealthy food? >> processed food is made to make you eat faster and more. >> reporter: over mexican classics and southern comforts, i'm dining with voting right tactics. >> there is no way that politician should have that much power to decide which american citizens get to vote and which don't get to vote. >> reporter: i am also asking those in power. why wouldn't we do everything we can to make sure everyone can vote. >> we do. >> as 20 million americans struggle with addiction just like i did. i slept every night on a pile of dirty clothes.
>> reporter: can the restaurant industry help pave the road to recovery? especially want you all to know dinner is being prepared by alcoholics for you tonight. so, up. >> those people out there need what we have. >> we have some hope. >> yeah. >> join me as i try to figure out what's eating america. hi, i'm alicia menendez from nbc headquarters in new york. today and next week it's all about nevada. early voting is already under way there. most democratic hope. s are in the state. a few are voting in on super tuesday. the stakes are getting higher by the day. looking at that time current count, pete buttigieg has the lead with 23 delegates, two more than bernie sanders, elizabeth warren has 8. amy klobuchar seven and joe biden 6. it's a lang way to the nomination but there are major oppo